Major airlines, banks among those hit by latest brief online outage


/ CBS/AFP

Major banks and airlines were among businesses hit by a fresh global online outage Thursday, with the problem traced to U.S.-based tech provider Akamai.

An hour-long blackout hit a number of U.S. airlines and several Australian financial firms as well as other companies dotted around the world, with angry customers unable to access websites and mobile apps.

"We are aware of the issue and actively working to restore services as soon as possible," an Akamai spokesperson told CBS News.

It is the latest incident to draw attention to the stability of economically vital online platforms, and the key role that a handful of mostly unknown companies play in keeping the web running.

Internet monitoring websites such as ThousandEyes, Downdetector.com and fing.com reported  dozens of disruptions Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

The Hong Kong Stock Exchange tweeted Thursday afternoon that its site was facing technical issues and that it was investigating, the AP said. The outage lasted about 17 minutes.

American, Delta, United and Southwest airlines were among those affected, while the issue appeared to be more prolonged in Australia -- where problems struck in mid-afternoon as much of the rest of the world slept.

Australia's largest financial firm, Commonwealth Bank, told AFP that it and many of the country's major lenders had been hit.

The outages, which began around 2:10pm Sydney time (12:10 a.m. EDT), also hit Australia's postal service and Virgin Australia Airlines.

The carrier said in a statement that it "was one of many organizations to experience an outage with the Akamai content delivery system".

A spokesperson for ANZ bank told AFP the incident was "related to an external provider" but that "connectivity was restored quickly and the most impacted services are back online."

Westpac and ME Bank also reported problems with their mobile apps or online banking products, while customers for St. George and several regional banks reported they were also down.

Last week, U.S. media and government websites, including those of the White House, The New York Times, Reddit and Amazon were temporarily hit after a glitch with cloud computing services provider Fastly.

Fastly offers a service to websites around the world to speed up their loading time.

Akamai offers a range of similar IT products designed to boost online performance and security.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Akamai did not specify what product the problem came from, but one company reported it used Akamai for "IT network authentication."

A series of high-profile ransomware attacks have also left corporations around the world jittery over cybersecurity risks, although there was no indication the latest problems were caused by malicious actors.

Colonial Pipeline was briefly shuttered after an attack in May, and JBS, the world's largest meat producer, was forced to stop operations in the United States and Australia.

Both firms reportedly paid ransoms to get operations back up and running.

The issue of cybersecurity was at the top of the agenda when President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin met in Geneva on Wednesday.

Washington believes hackers who have extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from Western governments, companies, and organizations operate from Russian soil.

First published on June 17, 2021 / 5:18 AM

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